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Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Expands Jio Investment to $22 Billion

Mukesh Ambani said that his Reliance Industries is investing some $22.5 billion (INR150,000 crore) in Jio, a nationwide 4G broadband platform which has the potential to change India’s media landscape.

Giving the keynote opening speech at the FICCI-Frames media convention in Mumbai on Wednesday, RIL chairman Ambani described Jio as “the world’s largest startup.”

The $22.5 billion figure is a 75% increase on the $12.8 billion (INR85,000 crore) that Ambani offered a year ago when he disclosed RIL’s investment in the platform.

“(Jio) is one of the largest transformational green-field digital initiatives anywhere in the world,”Ambani said.“Jio will be an ecosystem that comprises devices, broadband network, powerful applications and services distributed to every doorstep in India. Jio’s media offerings will include comprehensive library and programming recorded and live, music, sports, live television, movies.”

The speech was described by some observers as “inspirational,” as Ambani ticked off the economic progress made by Indian media in the past 12 years, and offered a vision of India climbing out of its current “digital poverty.” Ambani said that Jio will help India shift from its current 150th rank in global mobile Internet access to the top 10. But he notably failed to say when Jio will launch.

Jio had previously been set to launch in December last year. Investment analysts currently offer launch dates anywhere between April and December of this year. Currently it is only available to RIL’s 200,000 employees.

He offered a clue: “Jio will start its services with 70% coverage of the Indian population from day 1. I’m sure with all our industry partners and the efforts Jio is making India’s high speed mobile coverage will be over 90% by the end of year 2017.”

Ambani said that Jio will score through four key factors: coverage, quality/speed, data and affordability. “Jio will provide coverage, and wherever you are you will be able to access. Quality will be 40 to 80 times faster than at present. Quantity and capacity currently is 0.15 GB per annum, with capacity of over 10 GB per user per annum. We will be affordable to consumers,” he said.

Reliance Industries was a late entrant to the media and entertainment space, compared to the rival Reliance ADA Group, operated by Mukesh Ambani’s younger brother Anil. In 2014 Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries took controlling stakes in Network 18 Media and TV18 Broadcast, which are the joint venture partners of Viacom in India.

Reliance ADA group, recently renewed its commitment to Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, but is reported to be currently scaling back some of its other entertainment activities in India.

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